Sunday, June 22, 2008


It seems like only a short time ago I was glaring at people who talked on their cell phones in public places—at restaurants, in cars, walking down the street. Were their conversations really so important, they needed to talk RIGHT NOW? At the time, I wrote them off as not only inconsiderate, but show-offs: “I have a cell phone and I’m important.”

Of course, now that I have one, it’s different. I need it. I don’t know how I got along without it. There have been so many times I’ve needed to know what video to rent RIGHT NOW, whether we need milk RIGHT NOW, or if that’s you in the car ahead of me RIGHT NOW.

I’m not alone. Now it appears as if everyone has a cell phone—even toddlers. You can’t live here in the Valley without seeing nearly every other person chatting away on an iPhone, Blackberry, or other form of wireless communication. I mean, when was the last time you saw a phone booth? (“Yes, Virginia, that’s what we used to use to call our friends. No, it doesn’t text.”)

So now that I find the device indispensable, the powers that be don’t want me to use it any more—at least in the car. Hey, that’s where many of us in the area spend half our time. Yes, it’s annoying to see other drivers yakking on the phone and not paying attention to the road, but I’m not one of them. I can multi-task. I can listen to the radio, talk on the phone, apply lip balm, check my teeth in the rearview mirror, and think up column ideas all while driving down the street. I’m surprised not everyone else can.

But my husband doesn’t possess this skill.Tom can’t even listen to a book on tape while driving. One time, while listening to Harlan Coben, he ended up in Santa Cruz when he meant to go to Palo Alto. He’s worse when he talks on the phone. He drives 35 in the fast lane, stops at green lights, and forgets to turn off his blinker for days. Granted, he shouldn’t talk on the phone at home either. That’s when he’s most apt to put the milk in the cupboard, leave the coffee maker on, and forget to put lettuce in the salad.

But holding the phone in his hand has nothing to do with it. And that’s why this new law isn’t going to work. Being hands-free isn’t the problem, for those who need to be brain-free. Think about it. I can still dial, check my email, send a text message, take a picture of the ducks crossing the street in front of my car, scan for an iTune, blog my latest news, check my MySpace site, or watch a YouTube video.

Isn’t that a lot more dangerous than holding something to your ear? Come to think of it, isn’t fumbling around for a Bluetooth or plugging in an earphone or trying to find the speakerphone volume even worse? If we lose the freedom of hand-held car-speech, what’s next? Pretty soon we won’t be able to put on makeup, shave, play the air guitar, change into a new outfit, or eat cereal while we drive. I say, call your representative today.

From your cell phone.
While you’re driving.
Before July 1st, that is.


Blogger Kelli Nicole said...

I just got a blue tooth headset and I LOVE it, but I've heard that studies show that they don't make any difference in distractedness level. Lets face it, women can multitask, men can't. The law should say that men can't talk on the phone while driving, duh! :)

June 22, 2008 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Gabriela said...

Hello Penny,

I found you online somewhere and I am glad I did! Your blog and website are packed with information on books and tips.
And plus on my most favorite city, San Francisco! I have been there twice and can't wait to go back again.

Visit me!

~ Gabriela ~

June 29, 2008 at 3:21 PM  

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